Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dining Adventures In Kansas City, MO

Ok, so I've had this blog for a few weeks now, but I've been waiting to compose a post.  Why?  Well, I was trying to think of a clever first entry.  A way to start it off with an informative bang!  But I have just had the most amazing week sampling the food in Kansas City, MO, and I realized that I just HAVE to tell you about it!  So, forget the formal or clever introductions (you can check out my bio for that), I'm just gonna get right to it!

So we went up to KCMO this week for an art conference, and our friend who lives up there took us to an amazing place called BRGR Kitchen +Bar.  Okay, this place is technically in Kansas, not Missouri, but it's just across the state line.  Even though it is indeed a self-proclaimed "modern burger joint," BRGR are also the owners initials.  No, really.  The food here was AMAZING!

Once I took a look at the menu, I knew I had to start off with one of their "adult shakes."  I couldn't pass up a chance at the Caramel Kahlua, made with milk, Godiva liqueur, Kahlua, chocolate sauce, caramel, coffee ice cream, and whipped cream.  It was totally worth the $6.50. 

For my entree, I went with the Tex-Az, because a burger that's topped with queso sauce, jalapenos, and whole blue corn chips, on a corn bun cannot really go untasted by this mouth. 

I got this pic off BRGR's site, but this was the burger I ordered

It didn't come with fries or sides, but it was so good, that I didn't even care (which is rare, because I love sides).  However, I did add an order of the BRGR Fries which were shoestring-cut potatoes.  They were good.  Nothing special, but they were hot, fresh, and tasty.  My friend ordered the Truffle Fries, because she said they were "to die for" and she was right.  Fresh cut potatoes, much like the regular BRGR Fries, only they are fried in truffle oil and sprinkled with parsley. OMG!  I had never had truffle fries and these were indeed a delightful treat for my mouth!

All-in-all, if you get anywhere near 4038 W 83rd St. in Prairie Village, Kansas, I suggest you give it a go.  And if you’ve been there before and want to give them a shout out, you can follow their Facebook account here.

The next place we ventured this weekend was in the Westport District at Beer Kitchen.  It is an American Gastropub.  They had a wide selection of brews with very helpful flavor tags, so that I could see the combinations of flavors and proofs of each one.  

Every time I visit any kind of pub, or when I am on vacation, I have a powerful need to order fish & chips.  This was the first time that I’d been to a pub that used cape capensis fish over cod, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.  The fish was impressively light, moist and flakey, fried in a gentle coating of batter made from McCoy’s Landing Light lager. 

I forgot to take a picture myself, but this is it.  This picture was taken by Angela C. Bond.

It came with a small side of fresh slaw and a malt-vinegar aioli, of which I ate neither.  Now my friends LOVED the coleslaw and I’m sure that the aioli would have been an excellent addition to the fish’s flavor, however, I must confess that I am a picky eater and I just don’t like the flavor of anything with mayonnaise, ranch, or mustard base.  Let me make that clear up front.  But even without the veggie and saucy sides, I highly recommend this fish dish!  It also came with a pale of hand-cut and brined fries, which I really enjoyed as well.  If you (for some odd reason) don’t want a brew with your fish & chips, they also offer Boylan’s sugar cane sodas and China Mist teas.  Beer Kitchen is a definite stop, if you are in the Westport district, especially for lunch.

Kansas City Union Station - Photo by Jen Tucker

On Monday, we decided to spend the afternoon at Union Station, which was AMAZING!!  I could go on and on about how much I love the turn-of-the-century era d├ęcor, bullet holes in the wall from a Baby Face Nelson shoot-out, and the antiquated ambience with up-to-date amenities, but this is a food blog, so I’ll just talk about the restaurant we went to for lunch. 

We decided to go to the HARVEY'S restaurant that was set inside, and on top of, what used to be the semi-circular ticket booth of Union Station.  Now, if you don’t know anything about the Fred Harvey House chain of restaurants, or the Harvey Girls, you should really go check out the links above…or get a crash course by watching the 1946 Judy Garland movie “The Harvey Girls.”  I did watch the movie a few years ago, and knowing the history of the Fred Harvey Company, only enriched my experience for eating at the restaurant.

Photo by Jen Tucker

Some the menu items were from the original menu and the atmosphere was modern, with old-fashioned period flare and hospitality.  Our waitress was so fun and relaxed, but extremely professional.  She only enhanced the experience.  After looking over the menu, I decided to get the Crispy Pork Tenderloin sandwich, that came with a Boulevard Pale Ale mustard and chipolte horseradish mayonnaise, again, neither condiment went on my sandwich, as requested, (remember, I don’t like mayo or mustard).  When I ordered the sandwich without the sauces the waitress playfully told me that without something to spread on it I was going to choke from the dryness.  I laughed and said I’d probably just use ketchup to dip it in, and she said she was just looking out for me.  I then decided that I could not pass up the oddity of having popcorn-topped soup, so I ordered a cup of the Boulevard Pale Ale & Cheese with popcorn garnish, only available on Monday-Wednesday.  

This photo was borrowed from here, explanation of why below

My food came and it was beautiful!  However, there was no highly-anticipated popcorn garnish on my soup.  The waitress went to the kitchen to find out why I had been robbed of this experience and it turns out, the kitchen was out of popcorn.  Apparently the chef was reprimanded as to why she did not inform the waitress, so that I could be told, but then so was the expediter, for not catching the mistake before it went out.  Even though I was looking forward to having popcorn on my soup, I was excited to try it without.  I expected the cheese soup to have a cheddar flavor, like all the cheese soups I’d had before, but this one had more of a homemade nacho kick to it that was surprising.  It had quite a bite, and I can see why the popcorn garnish was chosen, because it would have been an outstanding combination.  However, alone, the soup was a bit too powerful for my taste, but was still made with very good quality.

The tenderloin was pounded out to a perfect thinness and was very tasty!  My local friend ordered the Cajon Shrimp Po Boy with sweet potato fries.  She said it was fantastic!  The fries came with a dipping sauce of cinnamon-infused marshmellow fluff, of which I sampled and fell in love with!  It was a very good addition to the sweet potato fries and I am going to try and make it someday to dip various other food stuffs in.  My other companion had the Citrus & Chili Rubbed Shrimp Tacos, which came with Southwest cilantro slaw, pico, queso fresco, fresh avocado, roasted corn & black bean Mexican rice, refried beans, and a lime wedge.  She couldn’t stop talking about how perfect the shrimp was cooked and how good all of the flavors were together.  Here is a picture of her plate.

We had all planned on splitting a dessert, but that just wasn’t going to happen after we realized that we couldn’t possibly stretch our stomachs out any more.  There are so many other things I would like to try off of this menu, and I will definitely be doing that the next time I visit Union Station.  There are three key things that make a perfect dining experience for me:  food quality, atmosphere, and most importantly, good service, and Harvey’s at Union Station lived up to my highest standards of all three...even without the popcorn garnish.

Photo borrowed from here, because again, I forgot my camera :/

Lastly, we had dinner at a little Italian eatery called BELLA NAPOLI.  It serves authentic Italian cuisine, at very reasonable prices and has full outdoor table service.  I did not get a chance to sample the pasta or other enticing menu items, but the pizza was very good.  There were so many tantalizing pizza options, but I ultimately went with the Funghi, which was simply just tomato, mushrooms, and mozzarella.  My companion ordered the Alessando pizza, which was topped with tomato, mozzarella, pancetta, and artichokes.  The Bella Napoli pizzas are enough for about 1 to 1.5 servings on a very tasty hand-tossed crust with fresh toppings.  They usually go for $8.99-$10.99, but apparently we went on $5 pizza Monday, YAY!  Bonus! 

I started off with a peach Bellini, because my mom insists that you can’t go to an authentic Italian restaurant without ordering one.  The ones I have had in the past are usually sort of a slushy texture with noticeable peach flavor, but the one I got at Bella Napoli’s was not slushy.  It was poured over ice, and the peach flavor was not really prevalent.  I’m not sure what was all in it, but it tasted more like straight champagne than anything else.  Not the best Bellini I’ve ever had, but the pizza and service were very good.  I am looking forward to sampling the pastas and grilled eggplant appetizer the next time I go, minus the Bellini. 

They also offer a fantastic deli selection of authentic meats and cheeses as well as a full coffee bar, that I would definitely take advantage of, if I lived in Kansas City.  Before we left this time, we finally got the dessert we’d been craving - cannoli!  These cannolis were fantastic and fresh, which is important in any dessert that’s worthwhile.  The shell was crisp and the ricotta filling was laden with chocolate chunks.  It was dusted in powdered sugar, and as a whole, the dessert was not too sweet, but just sweet enough.  The waitress let us know that they were out of the pistachios that were supposed to don the ends of the cannoli, but it was a delicious ending to our meal, nonetheless.  (Running out of toppings seemed to be a theme that day).

Soon I would like to implement some sort of rating system on this blog, but for now, just know that I recommend each of the 4 fantastic restaurants above, if you live around or visit the Kansas City, MO area.  I think it's important to note, that all of these restaurants also had very good vegetarian entrees, so that when you or your vegetarian friends go, no one has to just order off the sides menus to get a full belly.

So there you go, my first (and very lengthy) blog post to OMG, Have You Tasted This?  I hope you enjoyed reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it.